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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been designated an “enemy” of the U.S. by its military, according to declassified U.S. Air Force counter-intelligence documents, Australia’s Age newspaper reported.
Military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or its supporters may be at risk of being charged with “communicating with the enemy,” a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death, according to the documents, released under U.S. freedom of information laws, the Age said.
The designation is the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency, the Age said. The Australian citizen’s U.S. attorney, Michael Ratner, said the designation of WikiLeaks as an enemy had serious implications for Assange if he were to be extradited to the U.S., including possible military detention, the newspaper reported on its website. The U.S. Defense Department had no immediate comment on the report when contacted by e-mail.
Assange sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London on June 19 after exhausting options in U.K. courts to avert extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning on allegations of rape and sexual molestation. Assange, from the balcony of the embassy Aug. 19, called on the U.S. government to end its “war on whistle-blowers.” WikiLeaks has published thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents.
“These are U.S. documents obtained under an FOI in the U.S.,” Patrick Lowe, spokesman for Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, said in a phone interview from New York. “It’s not a matter for Australia,” he said, declining to comment further.
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